A young man working in the ministry is asked to visit an up and coming church. When he enters the church he is greeted by a group of men and their spouses. The young man looks around, asking some questions, trying to get a feel for the place. Marriage and ministry entered the wandering conversation and the pastor of the church weighed in with a firm, “I think it is a sin to put your marriage before your ministry.” The young man nodded and did not speak. He glanced around, finally recognizing the tired, depressed, helpless look on the faces of the women. The job opportunity paid well and was likely to open doors for the young man further down the road. Without a second thought the young man thanked the pastor and the others gathered to greet him, and left.
This is not fiction.
For those of us in seminary who have wives, or husbands, if you put seminary before your spouse you either need to repent, or you need to leave seminary. Perhaps both, depending on how long this has been going on and how deeply your spouse has been wounded by your foolishness. And here’s the worst part of all this, no matter where you stand in regards to where your marriage and your ministry rank in your priorities.
If you’re married, you’re going to make this mistake at some point, whether you like it or not. The difference is whether or not you repent of your mistake or if you just continue on in your folly, working your way towards a broken marriage.
Beyond the church, beyond your kids, your marriage is your FIRST ministry. You enter into the mission field of marriage when you say “I do” and you leave it when you die. Anything less is unacceptable. With this thought as the source of your motivation in regards to “Making Time for Your Marriage in Seminary,” here’s where the rubber meets the road.
If I was going to make this a step by step list, the first step would be to talk to your spouse. Step two would be to talk to your spouse. Step three…you get the idea. One of the most potent mistakes you can make while attending seminary is not communicating with your spouse. Especially for us guys, though the generalization isn’t as firmly one-sided as some might think, give your non-seminary attending spouse space to talk, to reflect on the process of how seminary is affecting your marriage, especially the homework end of things. What are some specifics that you should make sure to cover? Here’s a few…
- What kind of alone and together time do we need day to day?
- Are we praying together?
- Does the non-seminary spouse feel like he or she comes before seminary?
- What kind of class-load can our marriage handle?
- When is date night?
- Does the non-seminary spouse have friends and/or family that he or she can connect with?
Confession, when I read all of this aloud to my wife, I realized that we didn’t haven’t a date night.
We now will have a date every Sunday night.
It’s a process. It takes time and effort, but if you’re both talking about it and working together towards putting your marriage first, mistakes will hurt less and you will grow closer together, because even if you’re the one attending classes, you’re both going to seminary.
By Colby Anderson. Having just recently discovered the joys of coffee, pickles, sharp cheddar cheese, and fatherhood, you can find him attending Dallas Theological Seminary in pursuit of a Masters of Theology, which, of course, comes secondary to the continued pursuit of his Beautiful wife. And all of this under Christ, even the pickles. If you’re curious, he sometimes has time to think aloud at more-than-bread.blogspot.com.